Restoring the past

Restoring the past

Recently, when M S Sathyu returned from the first public screening of his restored 1973 National Award winning movie Garm Hava in Mumbai, he was a content man. “I was not at all skeptical even to begin with.

I think it’s a job well done. Thanks to today’s digital technology and DOLBY surround sound, my film looks as if it has been made today,” says the film director, stage designer and art director. Digitally restored by Indikino Edutainment, Garm Hava got re-released recently by PVR Rare.

Winner of a National Award in 1973, the film was India’s entry for the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language Film category. Starring Dinanath Zutshi and Balraj Sahni in the lead role, it also marked the debut of Farooque Shaikh.

Timeless topics

Garm Hava tells the story of the Mirza family and how it gets hit by the Partition in 1947. “It’s a humanistic story. It will find perfect resonance in every single place to which political partition is relevant — Korea, Vietnam, Germany… Yes, this generation doesn’t know about the horrors of the turmoil but the problems persist, even with a different face. It really doesn’t matter now whether it is the south of India or the north,” says Sathyu.

He is quite confident of his film’s success. “We didn’t make it to many theatres back in 1973, but this time with renewed support we are back and I am quite confident. See, unlike other countries, where going to watch a film is a dying desire, in India, people still like to go to a theatre to watch a movie.”

Talking about the art of restoration, where enhancing the picture quality and sound without tampering with the content is a fine balance, Sathyu says, “It’s a laborious process. They had over two lakh frames to work on! The sound had to be sent to the US to convert it from mono sound to Dolby digital. I was involved to the extent of maintaining authenticity. When they enhanced the picture of a few portions through colour correction, they sent it to me.

Of course, I couldn’t go to the US for the sound enhancement. By some strange coincidence, a Pakistani man was in charge of the sound there and he called me up to verify a few things and check if everything was fine. I was sure he would do a passionate job!” he says.

An expensive affair

The cost of restoration has not been miniscule either. While the original Garm Hava was made on a princely budget of two-and-a-half lakh provided by the NFDC, and another Rs 10 lakh was accumulated thanks to his goodwill among friends and relatives, the restored one has been an expensive proposition.

“This one has upped the budgets by 10-15 times over my initial spends. But then the truth is that everything has turned expensive — from hiring locations to catering to equipment,” he adds. But he seems to miss the days of yore. “Back then, there was an urge to make films and excite people with stories. The biggest challenge used to be completing a film within the stipulated budget and with the best artistes.”

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